International Education Leadership EXPERT BIOS

Expert Bios

Ron Cushing

Ron Cushing

Ron Cushing has been the Director of International Services at the University of Cincinnati for 24 years.  He is responsible for serving the needs of over 5,000 non-immigrant students, faculty, and researchers.  Ron has served as a mentor to over one thousand colleagues through his Fundamentals of Foreign Student Advising seminar, a three-day seminar for Designated School Officials that he has been conducting for 20 years.  Ron has made well over 100 presentations at professional conferences, including regional and national NAFSA: the Association of International Educators (AIEA); the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), the American International Recruitment Council (AIRC); the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges (NASULGC); the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AAOCRAO); Lorman Educational Services; Global Education Solutions LLC; and other organizations.  Ron has been honored by NAFSA, Region VI, with the Leo Dowling Award of Excellence for his “compassion, integrity and leadership” to the field of international education.  Ron is also a recipient of the University of Cincinnati’s “Just Community” award given to individuals for “outstanding contributions that promote the ideals of a just and caring community” and has been named of one the Communication Departments’ “50 Communication Alumni Champions” based on his success in his career, local community and support to UC.

David Di Maria

David Di Maria

David L. Di Maria is associate vice provost for international education at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), where he leads global engagement strategies. He regularly presents, publishes and consults, both nationally and internationally, on critical issues in international education. He holds elected leadership positions within APLU’s Commission on International Initiatives and NAFSA’s International Education Leadership Knowledge Community (KC), and he is an invited member of ACE’s Commission on Internationalization and Global Engagement. He previously served as president of the American International Recruitment Council and chair of NAFSA’s International Enrollment Management Knowledge Community. Di Maria earned a doctorate from the University of Minnesota, where he focused his research on campus services for international students. He also holds certificates in project management, lean tools and Kaizen.

Gretchen Dobson

Gretchen Dobson

With over 26 years of experience in higher education and constituent relations, Gretchen Dobson and her team at Academic Assembly, Inc. lead institutions, governments and member-based organizations towards sustainable global alumni engagement strategies and solutions. Dobson also provides professional coaching for academic and administrative leaders, NGO executives, and non-executive board leaders and volunteers  new to global engagement practices. Dobson is the author of Being Global: Making the Case for International Alumni Relations (CASE Books, 2011), the International Travel Handbook: Engaging Constituents Abroad (Academic Impressions, 2014), and editor of Staying Global: How International Alumni Relations Advances the Agenda (EAIE, 2015). She was recognized by the Chronicle of Higher Education as one of the leading “Innovators in Internationalization” for her work at Tufts University (USA) and remains active in professional associations. Dobson serves on the Board of Directors of United Planet since 2014, a network of leaders and volunteers fostering cross-cultural understanding and addressing shared challenges to unite the world in a community beyond borders. In 2019 Dobson joined the Africa Global Chamber of Commerce as their first Global Strategic Advisor for Outreach and Engagement. Dobson received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Boston College, and her Doctorate in Higher Education Management from the University of Pennsylvania. She is proud to be affiliated with the University at Albany’s School of Education as one of the inaugural International Education Leadership Fellows. She is based in Australia.

Karin Fischer

Karin Fischer

Karin Fischer is a journalist who focused on international education, including American colleges’ activities overseas, the globalization of the college experience, and study abroad. Her extensive reporting on international-student recruitment and the experience of foreign students in the United States has been collected in a special publication, Chinese Journey: Student Migrations, Family Dreams and What Happens Next. She also writes about U.S. higher education policy and the relationship between colleges and the economy. She writes a weekly global education newsletter, latitude(s), and her work has appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education, the New York Times, EdSource, the Washington Monthly, and University World News. She also is a research associate at the Center for Studies in Higher Education at the University of California at Berkeley. Ms. Fischer is a recipient of the East-West Center’s Jefferson Fellowship and the International Reporting Project fellowship, both for reporting in Asia. Her work has been honored by the Education Writers Association, the National Press Foundation, and the Poynter Institute. She is a graduate of Smith College, in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Jason Lane

Jason Lane

Dr. Jason E. Lane, Interim School of Education (SOE) Dean and Associate Professor. Jason E. Lane is Chair of the Department of Educational Policy and Leadership, Director of the Cross-Border Education Research Team, and founding executive director of the SUNY Academic & Innovative Leadership (SAIL) Institute. Previously, he served as Deputy Director for Research at the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government as well as Vice Provost for Academic Planning and Strategic Leadership and Senior Associate Vice Chancellor for the State University of New York, where he was responsible for the development and implementation of academic, economic, global, and leadership initiatives across the system. Dr. Lane’s scholarly expertise focuses the leadership and governance of higher education, particularly as it relates to the emerging relationship between higher education, policy and politics, and globalization. A Fulbright New Century Scholar, he has conducted research in more than 30 countries on the development of multi-national colleges and universities. He has written more than 50 journal articles, book chapters, and policy reports; and authored or edited 10 books, including Academic Leadership and Governance of Higher Education, Multi-National Colleges and Universities: Leadership and Administration of International Branch Campuses, Colleges and Universities as Economic Drivers and Higher Education Systems 3.0. He serves as co-editor for two book series with SUNY Press, Critical Issues in Higher Education and Global Issues in Higher Education and has served on the boards of the Comparative and International Education Society (CIES), Council for International Higher Education (CIHE), the Gulf Comparative Education Society (GCES), and SUNY Korea. His research has received numerous awards, including receiving the award for outstanding contributions to international education research from the Association for the Study of Higher Education.

Mitch Leventhal

Mitch Leventhal

Dr. Mitch Leventhal (Ph.D. University of Chicago) is Professor of Professional Practice & Entrepreneurship. Prior to his current appointment, Leventhal served as Vice Chancellor for Global Affairs at the SUNY system administration. An international leader in the area of global higher education management, Dr. Leventhal has been an advocate for reform of US recruiting practice, development of new financing paradigms in support of internationalization, creation of improved technical systems to support comprehensive internationalization, and deeper and more creative approaches to engagement with corporate partners. Dr. Leventhal is a co-founder and past president of the American International Recruitment Council (AIRC), a standard development organization which has developed the first rigorous certification process for international student recruitment agencies. He also has served as Senior Advisor on Academic Affairs to the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC), where he headed a global academic working group which is developing an implementation and reporting framework so that higher education institutions can adopt UNGC principles with the same efficacy as corporations. Prior to his arrival at SUNY, Leventhal served as Vice Provost for International Affairs at the University of Cincinnati. Dr. Leventhal has founded several companies, including a global payments company which is now publicly traded on the NASDAQ and London stock exchanges, and another – a Yale University spinoff – which facilitated technology transfer between research institutions and the private sector. Mitch Leventhal’s higher education research interests include global strategy, risk management, private equity flows, entrepreneurship, and cross-border mobility. His doctorate was awarded by the University of Chicago, and focused on the development of for-profit medical schools and their impact on Caribbean development.

Josh McKeown

Josh McKeown

Joshua S. McKeown, Ph.D., has been the senior international officer at the State University of New York at Oswego (SUNY Oswego), a comprehensive campus since 2008. As Associate Provost for International Education and Programs, he directs international initiatives that have been recognized with numerous national awards, including: the Diversity Abroad Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion in International Education (EDIIE) award for Organizational Excellence; the American Association of State Colleges & Universities (AASCU) Award for Excellence and Innovation in International Education; the Institute of International Education (IIE) Heiskell Award Honorable Mention for Innovation in Study Abroad. He also has led the institution to multiple rankings in the top twenty in the Open Doors national ranking of U.S. students abroad. McKeown leads strategy, directs personnel and manages priorities for education abroad, international student and scholar services, international recruiting and campus internationalization. He directs a department with nineteen staff in the U.S. and overseas running over 80 study abroad and exchange programs in more than 30 countries, enrolling 400 – 500 students per year.

Nancy Ruther

Nancy Ruther

Nancy L. Ruther, Principal and founder of Gazelle International, a non-profit helping innovative university leaders break out and harness technology to expand access to high quality international higher education. She is advising the University of Albany’s new online International Education Management and Leadership Masters and has guided the Connecticut Community Colleges internationalization effort with CT CLICKs modeled on SUNY’s COIL and other virtual exchange efforts. She also serves as Senior Fellow in Higher Education and Strategy with the Yale Women Faculty Forum helping re-energize their research-based advocacy program and faculty membership. In senior leadership with The MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies at Yale University, she grew budgets from $3 to $40M, kept Yale in the winners circle with Title VI grants and developed degree and certificate programs, expanded language teaching, developed faculty and graduate student exchanges and collaborations, managed scores of visiting faculty and competitions for student field projects, fee-based programs as well as outreach to the larger K-12 and college education communities. She also has developed simple, effective approaches to assessing the impact of international higher education, with a particular eye to graduate and professional students. For expanding educational exchange and partnerships, the French government honored her with the Chevalier des Palmes Académiques. Her longstanding research and advocacy interest is the interaction of federal policy and the international capacity of the U.S. higher education system, especially the HEA Title VI Act  impact on building and sustaining international, area and language studies in the curriculum and research agenda. Her doctorate is in higher education and public policy from the University of Massachusetts along with MS Agricultural Economics (Cornell) and a MPIA in International Affairs and BA Latin American Studies (University of Pittsburgh).  In addition to teaching at Yale, Columbia and the University of Connecticut, she has worked as a consultant in overseas development and strategic management and as a management trainer and researcher in Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Chile, Ghana, Pakistan, Portugal and Thailand among others. She began her career as a foreign service officer with the U.S. Agency for International Development serving in La Paz, Bolivia. She speaks Spanish, chats in Brazilian Portuguese and loves to say “hello” in any language!

Bruce Silner

Bruce Silner

Bruce Sillner was named founding dean of the Center for International Programs in 2001. As the Senior International Officer (SIO) of the State University of New York at New Paltz, Sillner administers study abroad and exchange programs, international student and scholar services, international undergraduate admissions, the intensive English language program, the Institute for International Business and the Global Engagement Program. Sillner chaired the State University of New York (SUNY) Council on International Education, co-chaired the SUNY and the World implementation team and was a member of the Gilman International Scholarship Review Panel. He is the 2009 recipient of the Marita Houlihan Award conferred by NAFSA The Association of International Educators for distinguished contributions to international education and is a 2013 recipient of the State University of New York Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service. In 2009-2010 he was appointed as a Presidential Mentor by the Association of International Education Administrators. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of The Forum on Education Abroad. In 2015, SUNY New Paltz received the Heiskell Award from the Institute of International Education in recognition of efforts to increase the participation of under-represented students in study abroad. Most recently, he represented SUNY New Paltz in a delegation of twelve American universities selected to rebuild academic ties with Cuba. Prior to being appointed as the first senior international officer at SUNY New Paltz, Sillner developed and directed the graduate program in Second Language Education. He came to New Paltz in 1986 as director of the Haggerty English Language Program.

Brian Whalen

Brian Whalen

Brian J. Whalen is among the most well-known and influential international education leaders currently working in the field. Chief Academic Officer and Dean of Education at Atlantis since 2019, he served for more than a decade (2006-2018) as the President and CEO of The Forum on Education Abroad, the first Standards Development Organization (SDO) worldwide focused on international education. During that time, he oversaw The Forum’s growth into a leading international association, and formidable quality assurance organization for the field of education abroad. He is also an experienced senior international academic officer, having served in that role at Dickinson College and Marist College. A widely published scholar, Brian was founding editor and for many years the publisher of Frontiers: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Study Abroad. During his long career, Brian has developed or overseen education abroad programs in more than 50 countries, has delivered dozens of presentations and trainings in the U.S. and many other countries, has collaborated to secure nearly $4 million in grants in support of international education initiatives, and has participated in high level meetings as a discussant on behalf of the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Education, and the White House. Brian has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in literature, psychology, and comparative and international education at several colleges and universities including, Boston University, Lesley University, Brookhaven Community College, and Dickinson College.  He holds an interdisciplinary doctorate from the University of Dallas in Psychology and Literature.  Brian is currently director and advisory partner at Academic Assembly, Inc., a Dean’s Fellow at Dickinson College, and an International Education Leadership Fellow at The University at Albany.

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